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they grew up surrounded by the sea and wealth. but what happened to young people here could have happened anywhere. >> there was a group of us quite frequently after school we'd just hang out. >> he was a promising young surfer. and a son to make a mother proud. >> he was incredible. like a rocket. >> they were former football teammates. they played and partied hard. but how did a night out with friends -- >> i just had an unsettling feeling in my stomach. >> -- end with the death of that rising star of the surf? >> he goes, something's happened. i just knew.
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i said it's emery, isn't it? he said, yeah. >> prosecutors called it murder. these friends said it was a tragic accident. >> one time, it was a fluke and, unfortunately, emery died. >> one young life lost. >> i was screaming emery, emery, please. >> five more on the line. >> it's a wake-up call for parents. >> the surfer and the bird rock bandits. captions paid for by nbc-universal television >> la jolla, california. long a sleepy enclave of the well-to-do was shaken by the brutal beating and death of promising surfer emery and those who might have been a little smug about the place, a little soul searching as one shock followed another on their grinding way through the legal system. for a year, the question hung over the town, was it really possible that this celebrated
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place that produced young men capable of such wanton thuggery? it was the week in which emery's friends mark the one-year anniversary of what to them was clearly the murder of a wonderful young man. but now his story sailed away out of their control. it moved to a downtown san diego courtroom where the judge was about to issue a crucial ruling. >> let the record reflect -- >> reporter: whether these young men, the bird rock bandits, should actually be tried for murder. but before that could be settled, there was another tough question. could the bird rock bandits be defined in law as a criminal street gang? if the answer was yes and they were found guilty of any of the charges against them, up to ten years could be added to their sentences. around the courtroom the families waited, hearts in their mouths.
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this was judge john einhorn. >> i'm going to find that the people have failed to meet the burden of proof that the bird rock bandits is a criminal street gang. >> score one for the defense. >> the gang allegation was dismissed. so i thought that gave us great momentum. >> it was a relief? >> yeah, it was a relief. that's a positive move and we're heading in the right direction. >> reporter: and now the question became, did the d.a. have a case at all? remember, the defendants claimed it was just a drunken street brawl that injured emery. who could have predicted his death from brain injuries days later? as they waited for the judge's next ruling, the bandits and their families allowed themselves to hope. >> i thought he was going to drop that whole thing. >> reporter: but then the other shoe dropped. >> insufficient evidence to hold all five defendants responsible.
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>> reporter: the judge ruled that the bird rock bandits could be tried for the murder of emery kauanui and for many other assaults also. the case wasn't going away. so now the bargaining again. as emery's family and friends out at wind and sea beach marked his absence from their lives, the men blamed for his death were talking to the d.a. but those young tough guys without whom that ceremony would never have had to be held didn't seem quite so tough any more now that they were facing possible life sentences. and over the course of the next month, four of them made deals. >> each one of the defendants, with the exception of mr. hendricks, who pled guilty to accessory after a felony, pled guilty to involuntary man slaughter. they pled guilty to involvement in the death of a human being. that is a significant charge. we were free to argue for the maximum penalty. >> reporter: which back in court she did.
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>> is that this was a group attack. this was a planned attack. >> reporter: for their part, the bird rock bandits seemed a long way from the bar room swagger of that fateful night may 2007. they stood before the judge like lost adolescents, bullies finally exposed. >> there is nothing more that i would like than to undo what has been done. but it's too late. >> not a day goes by that i don't think about emery. i'm sorry for everything that happened and that occurred. >> anything you decide to give me, judge, i promise that i will do it wholeheartedly and fully to the highest degree that i can. >> thank you, your honor. >> reporter: although there was nothing at all they could do to console cindy, emery's mother. >> emery's my treasure.
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and our family's broken. >> reporter: what should happen to those boys? >> i just know that my prayer is that there would be justice. whoever is guilty is going to be guilty. you can't think that you're going to do that and get away with that. you know, they killed a beautiful child, a beautiful human being, a human being that brought a lot of love and joy to the world. if they have to learn their lesson in jail, spend time there to get their life right, then so be it. >> reporter: then the man with the power to decide, his options? anything from probation to prison terms of up to five years. >> this was a tragic, senseless loss of life, and you didn't do a damn thing to help him. you victimized a community not once, not twice, but again and again. and you did it by violence and you did it by fear.
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it's so tempting for me to look at you and say the four of you had all the perks that you could possibly have growing up and that you tried to play tough guys and send you to prison, but that, at least in this court's opinion, would be inconsistent with handling cases as i do. >> reporter: because the bird rock bandits did not have adult criminal records, the sentencing recommendations called for probation and that's what the judge gave them, combined with time in county jail, varying from 90 days to 320. in other words, for all four, a second chance. >> it takes one screw-up to get back in front of me. so do the right thing. don't disappoint me. >> reporter: but one bandit was noticeably absent from all of this. the alpha male, seth cravens. the man who delivered the fatal blow.
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seth had been offered a deal, too. voluntary manslaughter and a prison sentence of 18 years. but seth cravens said no. >> what the government was asking was so extraordinary. >> we wouldn't even consider it. >> i can't make anybody take a plea bargain. i can give people their opportunity to take a plea bargain. i can get things as low as i can, but ultimately, it is the client that needs to sign the form and the client that needs to do the time. >> reporter: are you saying that seth refused to sign that plea bargain? >> well, obviously, he did not want to take the plea bargain. >> reporter: did you say maybe you should? >> well, obviously i'm not going to disclose attorney/client information, but i'm not somebody who is going to browbeat other people into doing time that they don't want to do. >> reporter: so now seth would go before a jury. one young man on trial for the many misdeeds of the bird rock bandits and for the death of emery kauanui. >> come to order. court is now in session.
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>> reporter: what a trial it promised to be. a dig in her heels prosecutor. >> mr. cravens advanced on him, delivered a punch. and it was -- >> he used his left hand. >> reporter: against a no holds barred defense attorney. >> so was mr. cravens' use of force in that instance reasonable? indeed it was. >> reporter: but a very different version of what happened that night. coming up -- seth cravens faces some of his other victims. >> they hit me once in the chest and then once in the chin. >> mr. cravens looked me in the face and told me he was going to f'ing kill me. 3q
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>> reporter: but according to investigators, the bird rock bandits had been posting photos on the internet of their hard partying for years, and their violent behavior had apparently gone hand in hand. so why hadn't parents or school officials or the police stopped these young men before their behavior reached its horrible climax on that may night? the bird rock bandits high school football coach had been asking himself these very questions. >> many of these guys have had some past history where they have a fight and walk away and there's really no repercussions. >> reporter: had the police just assumed crime didn't happen in la jolla and thus failed to spot the trouble here? >> there is not a large police presence. and so the one or two officers that are in the area are spread pretty thin. personally, i think that's kind of allowed some misbehavior to go by. >> reporter: jenny grosso, emery's girlfriend, wondered if it didn't have more to do with the easy life in this jewel by the sea. >> they have so much time on their hands.
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they're in a community that's safe, so they're allowed to go roam around the community. they're a group of males who are lost and confused. >> reporter: but only one man, remember, was on trial for murder. >> remain seated, come to order. court is now in session. >> reporter: on october 27, 2008, prosecutor sofia roach set out to tell a tale of a rough customer and a steady brutal march toward murder. >> this is a case about power, intimidation and egregious disregard for other human beings. >> reporter: seth cravens, the undisputed muscle of the bird rock bandits, had been charged with second degree murder for delivering the punch that killed 24-year-old emery kauanui. but he'd been hitting people and hurting them long before that, said the prosecutor. his act a catalog of thuggish behavior. >> he beat michael johnson until
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he was unconscious. they tried to beat down the door screaming, we're going to kill you. >> reporter: act by act -- >> sucker punched him in the side of the head. >> reporter: victim by victim. >> 16-year-old girl having a small party till mr. cravens punched her full force in the chest. >> reporter: prosecutor roach previewed the extraordinary stories of people who found themselves on the wrong end of a confrontation with seth and friends. >> they simply attacked guests in the front yard. jarrett was beaten, kicked, he had beer poured over him. >> reporter: then the prosecutor called the victims to the stand to tell what happened when they ran afoul of the bird rock bandits. this naval officer said he felt so threatened by seth he was prepared to use a gun to defend him. >> said they were going to [ bleep ] kill me. >> reporter: this girl high school age told how seth unprovoked hit her. >> once in the chest and then once in the chin. >> reporter: one by one, victims in assault cases came forward to tell their story.
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about a young bully who seemed to take pleasure in hurting people. >> mr. cravens looked me in the face and told me that he was going to f'ing kill me. >> reporter: just two weeks before emery met his fate, said the prosecutor, seth cravens jumped a total stranger in front of a la jolla bar and pummeled the man until he bled from the ears and nose. and afterwards he boasted and posted the incident on myspace. when are we going to chill? i can't go to the shack for a while because i murdered someone, ha ha ha. no biggie. call me up and let's get crunk. all of that, said the prosecutor, was prelude. the night emery spilled his drink on one of the bird rock bandits and hours later paid for it with a punch from cravens and a brain damaged beyond repair. it was to be the main event at seth cravens' trial. and the main witness, the girlfriend who lived through it. >> i knew that i was going to have to testify.
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and i was really scared, i was really nervous. >> reporter: she'd stood up to the bird rock bandits, but how would she stand up in court? >> do you need a break? >> no.
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he got up and he approached mr. cravens. >> it's not just stupidity, and it's not just bad luck. mr. cravens knew that his conduct was dangerous. and he knew it was dangerous because he'd had incidents before where it caused tremendously serious injuries. >> reporter: prosecutor sofia roach was convinced seth cravens committed second degree murder when he punched emery kauanui. the case for her a cautionary tale of what bullies are capable of. >> mr. cravens decided he had
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enough. >> reporter: to prove second degree murder, the d.a. had to establish that seth acted with something called implied malice. not that he intended to kill emery, but that he knew by throwing that punch, he might kill him and he punched emery anyway. here's how she introduced the story to the jury. >> standing about four feet away from mr. cravens, he asked him, how are you going to jump me in front of my own house? mr. cravens advanced on him, delivered a punch and mr. kauanui was -- >> reporter: he was dead four days later. then the witnesses, neighbors awakened by the shouting, the punching. >> it sounded like a lot of blows, like a sound track out of a movie. >> to me it sounded like a thunk. >> to me it sounded like a scrum line and they were just wailing.
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four guys were just wailing. >> reporter: this friend arrived in midattack. >> i just thought that the altercation was happening. i was just trying to get there as quick as possible. >> reporter: he talked to emery on the phone when emery seemed to anticipate an attack. >> he was yelling, get here, get here, get here. okay, i'm on my way. i'm on my way. >> reporter: he was driven there by this woman, arriving late in the incident, she said, her headlights flashed on emery in the middle of the throng. >> i saw emery on the ground and everybody else was around punching, kicking. and all of that. nobody was just standing anywhere. >> reporter: though she did say she saw emery try to defend himself. >> did he do something that caused the group to move? >> when he got up he took a swung. >> a swing? >> reporter: whether he swung or not would become a big deal before the trial was over. right now, though, the prosecution turned to science to show just how hard seth hit emery. >> i've seen these sort of injuries in motor vehicles. >> reporter: in her work, the
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medical examiner said she's encountered virtually every kind of head trauma. but when seth hit emery it was with a force not normally seen in a mere punch. it was more like a car accident, she said, or being hit over the head with a baseball bat or tire iron. the injury graphically illustrated with photos from the inside of emery's skull. the heart of the case, though, was emery's sweetheart, jenny grosso, who was there for every key event of may 23rd, 2007. a night that began with her and emery dancing in a crowded bar and ended with emery beaten down on a darkened street. >> do you swear that the testimony you're about to give -- >> i'm going up and i'm telling the truth and telling what i saw. so you know, flip it around, ask me 50 different ways, you're going to get the same answer. >> and how was it that you knew mr. kauanui? >> he was my boyfriend for 5 1/2 years and friend. >> reporter: jenny had also known seth and the other bird
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rock bandits for as long as she'd known her own boyfriend. >> i would never call emery a fighter, but he would defend, you know, then he wouldn't sit down. >> reporter: and so she told the jury she was terrified when she heard cravens and friends planning to go to emery's house and when she went racing back to emery's house where she said she saw her boyfriend on the ground, one of the bandits beating him. >> punching emery in the side of his stomach. he was straddling on top of him and you could see punches coming in on each side of emery's stomach. >> reporter: it was she that watched her boyfriend stagger to his feet after that. >> and he was actually directed to seth at this point. he was standing probably five or six feet in font of him. he just said, how the [ bleep ] you going to jump me at my house. maybe his arms raised a little bit, kind of like what happened? >> what did you see happen next? >> i just saw seth walk up to him. he didn't say anything back and he just gave him one extremely
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hard punch and emery just fell back immediately. it was like the lights went out in emery and he went back. >> what was the first part of his body that you believe hit the ground? >> i heard his head, i heard his skull crack when it hit the pavement. immediately after that there was just a pool of blood that started streaming from the back of emery's head, covering the back. i thought he was dead right then and there. >> do you need a break, miss grosso? >> no, i'm sorry. >> reporter: remarkably jenny wasn't just crying for emery. >> it was really hard for me to look at him in his eyes. my heart was hurting for him at that point. you know, i'm sad for seth, too. if i knew for sure that seth would have walked out of that courtroom and he would have helped people for the rest of his life, then that's what i would have wanted. i would never want to take a life away from anyone who doesn't deserve it.
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>> reporter: still even after all that, that testimony in evidence as the prosecution rested, the question hung in the air, had she proved second degree murder? why was it a murder? >> if you do an act that is so dangerous that the average person would know that it could result in death, then you're culpable for that act. >> reporter: what you're saying is any old bar brawl could be a prelude not to somebody falling down and getting hurt but to a murder? >> we're not talking about a bar brawl. we're talking about a group of people who decided to take that drive to the victim's home when they could have gone anywhere else and conduct a group attack. >> reporter: seth cravens had his own story of what happened that night, of course. it won't surprise you that it was a very different story. coming up -- the defense counterattacks with an attack on emery. was this a case of self-defense? >> there was emery and he goes, yeah, come on, come on, come on.
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when it went public, this case became not a prosecution but a runaway train. >> reporter: in battle you're pretty aggressive. >> yes, i am.
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and i think if you were the person sitting next to me, you would want me to be. >> reporter: yes. >> i'm not here to make the prosecutor feel good certainly. >> reporter: seth cravens' attorney mary ellen attridge has a reputation. she's aggressive and she doesn't care who knows it. frankly, she said, prosecutor roach was just the sort she'd love to beat. but defending seth cravens, reputed town bully, that would not be an easy thing to do. >> so this was a perfect storm of bad facts. the drinking of all parties, the fighting, the location of the blow and then the hit on the back of the head. >> reporter: what defense attorney attridge needed to do was make the jury believe a whole new story of what led to all those undeniable bad facts. >> everybody wants to see every participant in black and white terms. they want the defendant to be demonized and they want the victim to be canonized. and very rarely are either of those things applicable. >> reporter: and as attridge knew, emery was no saint.
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he'd been arrested in 2004 for assault on another surfer, the year before for throwing a bottle at a man, and more recently, he had had a dui. in fact, the night he encountered the bird rock bandits, he was still on probation. attridge considered an attempt to get emery's record into evidence and decided not to. >> there is certainly a lot of information i had about this particular gentleman that i did not bring in because it was not relevant. i think that i was somewhat restrained in that regard. >> reporter: dangerous to blame the victim. besides, she said, she didn't have to. instead attorney attridge set out to turn the whole story on its head with, right out of the gate, an astonishing claim. >> it is undisputed that what happened to emery kauanui was a tragedy, it was unnecessary and it was senseless, but it was not a murder. it was a case of self-defense.
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>> reporter: self-defense? how could she sell the idea that big, tough seth cravens surrounded by his buddies was actually defending himself against a lone and much smaller person? with witnesses who would claim that emery was no meek victim at all but that he asked for the fight and was, in fact, going after one ever the bandits. >> the evidence will show that mr. kauanui beat the living tar out of eric house. kauanui went over to where seth cravens was and five inches away from seth cravens' face, mano a mano he said what the [ bleep ] are you doing coming to my house? and seth cravens threw one punch. one punch with his left hand, despite he is a right-handed person.
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>> reporter: look at it this way, said attridge, not only did emery get right into her client's face, he had just beaten up seth's best friend. the kid who considered seth his protector. and when seth finally responded, it was with his weaker arm. in other words, with no intent to kill. next she told them emery had been drinking and smoking pot, just like the rest of them. and that certainly factored in. >> the blow, in combination with the use of drugs and alcohol, knocked mr. kauanui off his feet and he smacked his head on the sidewalk. >> reporter: but of course, seth wasn't just charged with throwing one punch one time. he was charged with years of bad acts. his attorney had to take those accusations on, too, and she had a theory of how to do it. >> well, the case hit the news. it was suddenly a big deal. probably because of the neighborhood. >> reporter: her argument? that those past incidents were
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blown out of proportion. minor misdeeds, really, elevated by publicity and public anger, exploited by an overzealous prosecutor. >> when it went public, this case became not a prosecution but a runaway train. >> reporter: what was it about her case that made it a runaway train? >> well, first, seth is charged with nothing. >> reporter: all those years he was supposedly rampaging around, she said, nobody ever reported any trouble. >> and then, the incident with emery happened and then the phones start ringing. >> reporter: suddenly there was public outrage. in tony, influential la jolla. >> then all of a sudden it's a public relations problem. so they started filing these counts. they filed the gang allegations. you know, it was like let's just take all this mud and throw it at the wall and see what sticks. so the runaway train theory really was that they tried to
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prosecute him for things that were either legally unsubstantiated or unprovable. >> reporter: take note of that runaway train metaphor. it will become quite important later. in court attridge tore into the prosecution's case wherever she could. there was for example emery's surfer friend. she brandished a tape in which she recorded a conversation with emery that night. it's a poor recording. difficult to establish what dylan said. but attridge claimed she heard him use a very significant word. >> and on the way back, he called me again. >> do you dispute that you said, i've got beef at my house and i'm going to kill him? >> i never said that. >> that was your voice on the tape, however, is that correct? >> yes. >> so you say you never used the word kill. >> no. >> what word were you using? >> okay, okay, okay, i'll be there. >> his testimony was just
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absurd. essentially he had spoken with mr. kauanui on the evening of the incident and kauanui said, i've got a beef at my house and i'm going to kill him. i thought that was an important fact because it showed that mr. kauanui was not necessarily as quiet as a lamb but arguably a participant. >> reporter: he also witnessed the climax of the struggle and how close emery came toward seth, a detail that attridge believed was crucial. >> you said they were about five inches apart, right? >> they were pretty close. right. >> and they were both yelling, right? >> yes. >> reporter: remember, jenny grosso had testified that seth and emery were several feet apart. was it really just inches? did her love for emery prevent her from seeing how he provoked seth? was the story everybody heard up to now the one that had emery as a blameless victim wrong? the attempt to paint her son as the aggressor made cindy kauanui
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angry. >> i know who my kid is, i don't need anybody to tell me that. if they want to paint a different picture, then that's their problem. they need to deal with their own guilt because this is just not the kid i know. and i'm not going to give in to that. i'm not going to give power to it. >> reporter: but what would the jury believe? especially after the bird rock bandits finally told their story of what happened that night. coming up -- was it a closing argument or a challenge to a fistfight? >> emery kauanui got within five inches of seth cravens and said how the [ bleep ], how the [ bleep ], how the [ bleep ] come to my house! do woodchucks chuck wood? (high-pitched laughter)
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like apple and sheer cinnamon. winter luxury by air wick. also available in scented oils. with one punch, it was a fluke. and unfortunately emery died. this is not an implied malice murder make, in my opinion. >> reporter: as attorney mary ellen attridge prepared to make her claim that emery kauanui's killing was as much his own fault as that of seth cravens, something very disturbing happened down at the county jail. there was another beating. this time the bruised and battered victim was hank hendricks, the college kid doing his 90 days in jail after copping a plea. who attacked hank and why? gossip at the jail was this -- somebody had put out the word that hank would testify for the prosecution.
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so before hank took his place in court, now neatly dressed in a pressed shirt and a tie, there was more than a little speculation. would the least likely bandit testify against seth cravens' version of events? the same question held for bandit matt yanke, still serving time in jail. but what happened in court? both bandits stood by seth cravens and stuck to their story. >> emery came at eric swinging. eric was bleeding pretty profusely. >> reporter: it was emery who was the aggressor, they said. emery who handily beat up one of the other bird rock bandits. and when emery's girlfriend jenny arrived, hank said he pulled her away because -- >> just as i said one time, you don't know what's going on. she was hitting the guy that just got beat up in a fight. >> at that point what did mr. house look like physically?
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>> he looked pretty bad. his face had started to begun bleeding. and i could notice that he was looking on the ground for something. >> eric started going on all fours. he was pretty disoriented by his speech. he was saying, i got to find my tooth, where's my tooth. he was feeling the concrete for his tooth. and he was saying, i'm done, i'm done, i'm done. eric was saying, you got me, you got me, it's over, it's over. >> reporter: and that's the moment that seth cravens came to the aid of their good friend eric. >> he's done, get off of him. >> reporter: seth pushed emery back towards the middle of the street and said it's over with. >> how far apart were they from one another? >> probably started about five or ten feet, then got to right in each other's face. >> reporter: right in each other's face, not feet apart as jenny grosso had claimed. and matt yanke said it was emery who moved in. >> then i saw emery -- i saw seth back away from the situation and i saw emery charge at seth and he's
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saying, you know, a lot of stuff. why do you guys come over here? why are you guys doing this? and he's talking to seth. comes right to him, about inches before his face and starts to swing with his right arm. then i saw seth throw a left and connect with emery in the jaw. >> reporter: this was the moment for the defense. if emery came at seth within inches of his face, if he swung his arm, wasn't seth's punch self-defense? the prosecutor had a problem. if the jury believed that version of the story, how could she win a conviction for second degree murder? she questioned both bandits relentlessly, but neither budged from their story of the fight. so prosecutor roach found another way to paint cravens guilty. his reaction to the fatal punch. >> mr. cravens was bragging about knocking emery out with his left hand, wasn't he? >> yes. it was more surprised that he knocked him out with one punch from his left hand. >> did you describe it as bragging? >> yes, you could take it as
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bragging. >> reporter: now it was time for each side to pull all strands of testimony and evidence together and sell its version of that night, that fight to the jury. after nine days of testimony, closing arguments, for prosecutor roach, this whole case was about a man who simply didn't care about others and the pain he might inflict on them. >> everything in our human experience tells us that blows to the head can be deadly. despite that fact, seth cravens was giving the victim punishing blow after punishing blow to the head. >> reporter: this was it. the prosecutor's last shot at the bird rock bandit. she was going to drill it into everybody, seth cravens had a pattern, seth cravens was not a good man. >> never, ever challenge him. he will come to your house with four of his friends.
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he will punch you with so much force that it will cause a fracture consistent with being hit in the head with a baseball bat. and he will laugh about it later. >> reporter: defense attorney attridge came back at the prosecution hard, arguing the facts of the case just didn't fit the law. >> who knew that one left-handed punch could result in this death? mr. cravens' left fist is not a dangerous or deadly weapon. one punch? is not cruel or unusual. and importantly, there is no evidence that mr. cravens consciously disregarded a danger to human life. >> reporter: she knew she needed some drama. a big forceful gesture to demonstrate her point that seth acted in self-defense, that the case against him was a runaway train. but no one was expecting the
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drama she unleashed. >> and i think when you consider the following fact, you will know that this prosecution has been a runaway train. and that fact is that emery kauanui got within five inches of seth cravens and said, how the [ bleep ] how the [ bleep ] how the [ bleep ] you are going to come over to my house! 2-2. thank you. >> reporter: now what would the jury think about that? coming up -- the verdict. >> we the jury in the above-entitled cause find the defendant seth cravens --
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november 10th, 2008, a year and a half after a spilled drink at a bar and a left-handed punch that killed a budding surfing phenomenon named emery kauanui. a san diego courtroom was, well, astonished. >> emery kauanui got within five inches of seth cravens and said, how the [ bleep ], how the [ bleep ], how the [ bleep ] you come to my house! 2-2. thank you. >> reporter: and what sort of look was on the faces of members of the jury?
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>> well, it was kind of a universal gaping of the mouths. everywhere in the courtroom. i think the judge was wide-eyed. it was a wild thing to do. >> reporter: what was she trying to do? well for one thing, said attridge, she wanted the prosecutor to react physically. >> she had the presence of mind, much to my chagrin, not to hit me. it would have been fabulous. >> reporter: you know what she wanted? >> i'm quite sure what she wanted. >> reporter: she wanted you to take a shot at her. was there anything? >> never entered my mind. never occurred to me. never. that i would get up and strike somebody. never. >> reporter: perhaps not. but now that incident joined the story the jury had to sort out on its own. >> it was something we certainly discussed. >> it was like wow. >> reporter: but had her defense succeeded? jury foreman rick kree.
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>> we actually struggled. >> reporter: the debate said fellow jurors was intense. there were two kind of distinctly different stories about what happened in that fight, one from the defense, one from the prosecution. >> everybody knew the bottom line was a punch was thrown, emery fell back and hit his head and died four days later. so really what it was is just paying really close attention to all those circumstances surrounding it. >> and nobody disagreeing that seth cravens threw the punch. >> reporter: was it hard to decide whether or not that crossed the bar to become a murder? >> for me it was. >> reporter: the hang-up was one troublesome legal term, implied malice. days went by. they couldn't decide exactly what it meant. it gave you a lot of trouble? >> four criteria had to be met for it to be implied malice. >> reporter: that's what you needed to get to second degree
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murder. >> one was at the time he acted he knew the act was dangerous to human life, the natural consequences of the act was dangerous to human lie. >> he intentionally committed the act. at the time he committed the act he did it with conscious disregard for human life. >> reporter: had seth cravens crossed those legal lines? they simply couldn't agree. >> we're unable to reach a unanimous decision. >> reporter: at one point you sent a note back and said, you couldn't do this. and the judge wasn't buying that either. >> without telling me which way the majority is leaning, what is the numerical spread, the final vote. >> 11-1. >> reporter: seth's parents believed the number had to be in their son's favor. >> so everybody's 11-1, okay, we just need to convince one more person. >> reporter: in favor of the defense? >> yes, in favor of the defense. >> reporter: back in the jury room, they debated, argued, struggled until finally eight
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days after they received the case. >> the verdict, we the jury in the above entitled cause find the defendant seth cravens guilty of the crime of implied malice murder in the second degree. >> reporter: the jury found seth cravens guilty of second degree murder for throwing the left-handed punch that killed emery kauanui. and -- >> find defendant seth cravens guilty of the crime of criminal threat -- >> reporter: guilty on all but three of the lesser counts. >> it was an enormous shock. >> it seemed unbelievable. >> everybody was surprised. >> reporter: his attorney mary ellen attridge took it hard. >> i was just devastated. it was awful. >> reporter: it was shocking after -- >> it was shocking, it was depressing. you know? because there's so much loss of life that happened in the case. here's two guys in their 20s. none of this needed to happen. so it was a very, very difficult verdict. >> reporter: but for emery's
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mother cindy, this was a long awaited verdict. and the next step, sentencing, would be the final measure of justice for her son. >> the judge would come up with the right judgment and trusting that god will give him wisdom. and i just have to look forward. i'm not going to live in the past. >> reporter: seth, who did not testify at his trial, finally spoke at his sentencing if only to say how sorry he was. >> i just want to say sorry to emery's family. i'm so sorry that it's happening. i'm sorry for your loss. i do pray that you guys find some kind of peace and comfort. i'm sorry. i'm sorry to my own family. everybody that had to go through this with me. i'm real sorry. >> reporter: his sentence? there would be no second chances for seth. the judge handed him 20 years to life. all the more severe considering that plea bargain he turned down. before seth was led away to serve his time, attorney attridge tried one last request. >> mr. cravens would
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respectfully request the ability to give his parents and his fiancee a hug. >> can't do it. i'm sorry. >> reporter: then the last of the bird rock bandits shuffled off to prison. for those who loved emery, seth's sentence was not merely just, but a warning. >> i think it's a good testimony of the justice system at work, and i think that people should watch this and they should know that they can't get away with these things. >> reporter: cindy kauanui did not attend the trial. too painful. but she sees the waves come in at wind and sea, emery's beach. and she's glad for his 24 years. and she says to parents everywhere, don't waste the time you have. >> look after your kids. listen to your kids. listen to them. because they tell you things. all kids have things that they struggle with and fears. and my son was no different. and he struggled with a lot of things in life. but you got to just stay close
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to them. >> reporter: this is a wake-up call for that. >> it's a wake-up call for the community, yeah, and a wake-up call for parents. ♪ ♪ >> a couple of final notes. the three bird rock bandits who pleaded guilty to manslaughter later violated the terms of their probation. calling them a danger to the community, the judge sentenced them each to three-year prison terms. last year the san diego county district attorney's office presented jenny grosso with its citizen of courage award. for more on this story, visit -- captions by vitac --
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i'm ann curry. for all of us here at nbc news, good night. >> this sunday, the politics of the economy. have americans lost faith in the president and his party to dig the country out of recession? >> the hole the recession left was huge. the progress has been painfully slow. millions of americans are still looking for work. >> can the white house do anything before november to put people back to work? and who is right in the debate about your taxes? i'll explore the president's thinking and go inside the white house's campaign strategy with senior adviser to the president, david axelrod and then nine years after 9/11, what's behind the new wave of anti-muslim sentiment in america? has the president helped or hurt by weighing into controversies about an islamic community center and mosque in lower
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monta manhattan and a florida's pastor threat to burn a holy koran. we'll talk with rudy giuliani. finally, our political roundtable weighs in on the legacy of the 9/11 attacks, religious tensions in america and the outlook for the midterm race. with us the bestselling author of "no god but god: the origins, evolution and the future of islam" reza aslan. former white house press secretary to president clinton, dee dee myers, republican strategist mike murphy and ron brownstein of the "national journal." captions paid for by nbc-universal television good morning. after a weekend of start and stop announcement, news from iran this morning that jailed american sarah surer will be released on $500,000 bail along

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NBC September 13, 2010 1:00am-2:00am PST

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TOPIC FREQUENCY Seth Cravens 29, Mr. Cravens 14, Attridge 11, Emery Kauanui 10, Jenny Grosso 5, Mr. Kauanui 5, Seth 4, Jenny 3, Mary Ellen Attridge 3, Cravens 3, Hank 3, Air Wick 2, Emery 2, America 2, Medicare 2, Cindy Kauanui 2, Florida 1, San Diego 1, La Jolla 1, Ask 1
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